Affordable Housing

  • January 11, 2016

Affordable Housing Washington DC

“Affordable Housing” has a legal definition in Federal policy and that concept typically has broad support at the municipal level.

People seeking a walkable urban lifestyle with easy transit connections among various walkable centers, have found the concept of “affordable housing” is largely used to build low-cost subsidized single-family houses on their own lots on cheap land. That policy requires the owners to use a car to get to nearly all amenities, including jobs.

But a car costs nearly $10,000 every year, a big bite out of the affordability budget. Jettisoning that expense allows more cash each year for mortgage payments (or rent), allowing a more expensive home or apartment in more convenient location.

Ideally, that home is in a well designed small condominium where residents own their quarters and build up real assets. A well designed small apartment complex can provide reasonable rents in a high quality neighborhood environment.

The home’s value will rise with its closeness to high quality transit in dedicated right of way and to a variety of walkable amenities with a park in the middle.

Many of the existing light rail stations are in walkable neighborhoods. Research shows that essentially 100% of people are willing to walk 5 minutes to transit, longer if there is active quality of life along the walk.

Affordable housing should be focused on the inside edge of that 5-minute circle around the rail station. Townhouses might be outside the circle facing small condos.

Many of the station areas are in Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones, which typically are required to divert a significant portion of the increment each year into affordable housing. That money should always be spent near rail stations in that TIRZ.

The TIRZ should also support the creation and wellbeing of small local businesses near the stations.

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required